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brass nut theory/question

Discussion in 'DIY Strat Forum' started by imjustsean, Nov 20, 2011.

  1. imjustsean

    imjustsean Strat-Talk Member

    Nov 14, 2011
    If you put a brass nut on a guitar the argument is it only effects the open strings but what if you had brass saddles as well? Same with the graphite nut, it you had graphite saddles the fretted strings should sound similar to the open ones. Course the fret material would play into the equation. Am I crazy?
  2. NAST999

    NAST999 Strat-Talk Member

    Dec 3, 2011
    Rancho Cucamonga
    A lot of great players use brass nut for the attack and resonance, but Your question is a notion I never considered... I don't notice unbalanced tonal difference between open notes and fretted ones... Both Mi Ovation and Strat have brass nuts. I love them. Brass equates to massive tone and sustain. I really dig the sensitivity. AllParts sells fine ones for $20... And yeah, a brass bridge sounds outstanding... Saving up for one.
  3. Strategist

    Strategist Strat-Talker

    Sep 3, 2011
    Brass saddles on Teles are commonly used. They are barrel type as opposed to what would be used on a Strat bridge/saddle configuration and are concidered as giving a warmer tone. The combo of those and a brass nut is an interesting configuration, especially on a Strat.
  4. sevycat

    sevycat Custom Shop Cat Strat-Talk Supporter

    Aug 8, 2008
    Newark, DE
    Brass nuts were all the rage back in the 70's. You don't see them used too much these days, I wonder why?
  5. Hugh

    Hugh Got Punch ? Strat-Talk Supporter

    Jul 26, 2009
    Louisville (KY)
  6. Hugh

    Hugh Got Punch ? Strat-Talk Supporter

    Jul 26, 2009
    Louisville (KY)
    I don't know why. I just re-filed my string slots on my Electra and the brass is a pleasure to work with. It has an all solid brass bridge as well. Love it.



  7. oldwolf

    oldwolf Strat-O-Master

    Jun 6, 2011
    San Antonio, Texas
    I think there are a few reasons that brass nut's are not used as much anymore, besides the obvious one, of debunking most of the added tone and sustain myth.

    The first in my book, is that metal strings sliding through slots in a metal nut, are bound to cause binding without constant lubrication. Thats why we have oil pumps in our cars. The natural oils in bone, help a lot with the lubrication, but even then can benefit from added lube.

    Another issue is that a well crafted nut, with a minimum of string to nut contact, which requires a well shaped and rolled top (unlike the flat topped one pictured), will wear pretty quickly, as brass is one of the softer metals. So a brass nut is not "forever".

    After a while the beautiful golden shine of the brass becomes tarnished, and they don't look so sharp anymore, without constant buffing.
    Gene Warner
  8. Hugh

    Hugh Got Punch ? Strat-Talk Supporter

    Jul 26, 2009
    Louisville (KY)
    Not to argue, but brass is harder than bone, TusQ, or most any other material used for nuts. Also, I have to disagree that minimal string to nut contact is optimal. The fact such a minimum area of contact wears faster is precisely why it's not well crafted.

    From Frank Ford's site

    A well shaped nut does look better, I agree, but the bottom of the slot is what matters. As far as shine, some like the patina brass acquires over time.
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2011
  9. Bender strat

    Bender strat Strat-Talker

    Mar 31, 2011
    Iv made a few nuts out of nickel silver, on the theory that, since the fretted strings on in contact with the nickel frets, the open strings should be also. honestly? It didn't seem to make any difference and slotting nickel silver was a GIANT pain in the butt.

    They do however look real purdy.
  10. Celeste

    Celeste Senior Stratmaster

    Jan 17, 2009
    I think the hard to work argument is the most likely.

    Wear and lubrication? just go with one of the oil impregnated bronzes, bronze is the preferred choice for bells, so if brass is good bronze should be better. It can be substantially harder as well. If the primary draw back of brass were wear and lubrication, then Oilite would have been quickly substituted.

    Copper alloys do give you a big choice in colors from surface treatments. Greens, blues, reds and yellows are all possible in chemical surface treatments that are stable and protective.